This is part of some travelling notes I wrote exactly 4 years ago for a trip to New Zealand in November 2004. Please enjoy the story.
Day 9, 14 November 2004, Sunday
My mind left dream land at 6:00am, but my body only caught up at 6:15am. Ate the last Snickers and muesli bars for breakfast. Waited for the 6:30am morning call. Ring, ring. Time to move. Washed up, packed up and dragged my luggage across the road to get to the reception counter. Checking out was a brief affair, and the receptionist helped me mail a survey letter (from my tour package company TourMasters) I did last night.
It was then 7:30am. I walked around the reception room, glancing at the hotel’s trophies, paintings and fireplace. They were also selling batteries, shavers, medicine and stuff. The only reason I even remember these things was that I felt restless waiting there. And hungry, didn’t forget that… Oh, there were two floor lamps, metal (bronze?) molded in the shape of angels (I guess), mirror images of each other. Oh good, my limo arrived (same car company for when I first arrived in Christchurch). Driver’s name is Ashley.
Reached airport at 8:05am. Ashley even showed me how and where to check in before he left. Finished checking in at 8:20am. Could have been earlier, but there was a young couple who seemed to have overweight baggage, and was creating extra paper work.
Didn’t want to repeat the same mistake 9 days ago in Changi Airport, so I hurried immediately to the gate. I got a window seat! Not too good though, because the right airplane wing was just outside my window and the sun was especially strong. Not much cloud cover to speak of, so my eyes were assailed by a constant stream of reflected sunlight. I had to pull the window cover down to shield my eyes.
Lift off at 9:16am, touch down at 10:21am. That was quick. Connecting flight’s at 1:00pm, so I had plenty of time. I decided to walk the 8 minute route from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. My luggage was automatically transferred to the plane, so I didn’t have to lug that big case around. I took my time, since my calf was still aching. Checked in early, paid the airport tax (NZ25.00), and explored the Auckland airport a bit, since the last time I was here, I was kinda occupied with reaching my connecting flight.
Nothing much to see really, so I went to the gate to wait. Besides, the smell from the cafes and McDonald’s was driving me crazy. Hope they serve food on the flight soon. I’m famished!
It’s now 11:20am, one hour more till boarding time. I got a window seat again! My seat partner was Sheila from Christchurch. She’s English by birth, but decided to reside in New Zealand. Going to her brother’s birthday. Wishes her children will provide her some grandchildren.
At 2:10pm, they served lunch. Finally. There was some chicken thingy, vegetables, bread and dessert cake. I hope Sheila didn’t get the impression that I’m a starving lunatic, what with the way I was bulldozing through the food. Though it’s not too far from the truth. I really was trying very hard to eat with decorum. Inflight movies: “I, Robot”, “The Terminal” and “The Manchurian Candidate”. They served stuff on and off. Like lemon tinctured ice water. Take. Ice cream. Take. Peanuts and crackers. Take. Orange juice. TAKE! Oh yeah, I’m not too picky…
Did some problems from Amazing Logic Puzzles to kill time. Managed to solve 5 math puzzles before the 10:00pm dinner. Food! Yeah! Lasagne, long beans, bread, fruit, cake, orange juice and Chinese tea. Oh this is lovely.
The flight took about 11 hours. We landed on Singapore soil at 7:12pm Singapore time according to the plane, and 12:10am New Zealand time according to my watch. Switching back to Singapore time now. I’m back!
I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Sure there were unfortunate instances that could have been avoided, like maybe walking less (Dunedin walkathon), or bringing more money (the two day end-of-trip financial disaster). But these are what made my trip more memorable, and ultimately more enjoyable. I wasn’t in any real danger, so I went for having adventures instead.
I’m glad this trip was so free-style in nature. Imagine being led around by a tour guide. Why would I want to do that, when I can explore the cities and have my own experience? New Zealand gave me awe-inspiring landscapes, unforgettable experiences and unique memories.
A lot of people asked why I’m travelling alone, especially for my first trip. First off, no one’s free to come along, or willing to pay for this trip I like. Second, I wanted freedom at the time. I wanted this to be entirely different for me. About the only thing I heeded was to get a tour package. The tour company arranged everything about transport and lodging. Food and fun is up to me.
Finally, I want to thank all the people I’ve met on the trip. Notable persons are:
- Richard, the Air New Zealand pilot.
- Jung Tea Hee, the Korean backpacker.
- Mie, the Japanese lady.
- Rob, my paragliding pilot.
- The nice Mexican couple. … Especially and particularly this nice Mexican couple. I really should have gotten their names…
- Jaya, my glacier walk guide.
My only regret was that I didn’t take pictures of the people I met. I started on the trip just wanting to have a new view of my world. The (mis)adventures I had and the people I came into contact with, made my experience fuller. Thank you for reading.